CALGARY — TransAlta Corp. deliberately timed outages at power plants in Alberta at peak times in order to drive up electricity prices, the province’s utilities commission said in a ruling Monday.The Alberta Utilities Commission conducted hearings after the province’s market surveillance administrator alleged that the Calgary-based company manipulated the electricity market by shutting down coal-fired power plants in late 2010 and early 2011 to drive up power costs during periods when demand was high.“The commission concludes, based upon clear, cogent and convincing evidence that TransAlta could have deferred each of the above described outages to off peak hours but chose instead to take them during peak or super-peak hours so as to maximize the benefit to its own portfolio,” the commission said in its decision.“In other words, the timing of the outage was determined by market conditions rather than by the need to safeguard life, property or the environment.”The timing of the outage was determined by market conditions rather than by the need to safeguard life, property or the environmentThe commission also found that TransAlta breached a regulation by allowing its energy trader Nathan Kaiser to use privileged information related to plant shutdowns so that the company could benefit in the market.“TransAlta knew, or should have reasonably known that Kaiser had information regarding the capability of Sundance 1 and 2 to produce electricity that could reasonably be expected to have a material impact on market prices and would give him an advantage over market participants who did not have that information,” the commission found.But the commission said Kaiser established a defence of due diligence based on repeated assurances from senior TransAlta management that he could direct trades despite possessing information that wasn’t public.The commission also found that the market surveillance administrator did not prove allegations that TransAlta’s compliance policies, practices and oversight were inadequate and deficient.TransAlta Corp buys solar and wind projects in U.S. for US$75.8 millionCoal-fired power plants feel the heat of Alberta’s new carbon tax rulesTransAlta Corp cutting 20% of workforce in Canadian coal unitTransAlta’s shares fell to $8.40 at 10:31 a.m. in Toronto, the lowest since the stock debuted in 1992. The S&P 500 Utilities Index was down 0.5 per cent.TransAlta’s credit rating may be at risk if it’s hit with a penalty, Ben Pham, an analyst with BMO Capital Markets, wrote in a note Tuesday. The company has enough liquidity to cover the cost of a fine, which probably won’t affect TransAlta’s dividend, he said.In a release late Monday, TransAlta said it has received the decision and will be reviewing the ruling.It said its response could “include the possibility of an appeal to the Alberta Court of Appeal.”The company has previously denied all of the allegations, calling them “categorically false” and saying that it triggers outages for maintenance, operations and safety purposes.The commission said it will resume proceedings later to determine how much TransAlta benefited from the closures and what penalties to impose against the company.Jim Law, a spokesman for the commission, said it could fine up to $1 million per day per offence, plus claw back any benefits if it finds TransAlta gained from any offences.Brad Hartle, press secretary to Alberta Energy Minister Margaret McCuaig-Boyd, said in a statement that the government is “very concerned” that TransAlta was found to be breaking the rules.“Alberta families need to know that they can get the power they need at a reasonable price,” said Hartle. “When the process is complete, we will take a good look at what happened, as well as what has happened since to determine whether there are steps our government should take to better protect consumers.”With a file from Bloomberg
South Central Ambulance Service has been informed about the release of the tape of a 999 call… and have launched an immediate investigationSpokesman for the ambulance service September 2011 till December 2016 best years of my life. I will always forever miss you. Xxx— Fadi Fawaz (@fadifawaz) January 15, 2017 George Michael’s boyfriend tried to wake the singer up for an hour and described him as “beyond help” in an emotional 999 call after he found his body.Fadi Fawaz, who found Michael dead at his Oxfordshire home on Christmas Day, described the singer as “cold” and “blue” in the call to the emergency services. In the four-minute recording, Mr Fawaz is heard telling the female call handler that he found the singer “in bed, dead” Credit:Stillwell/PA Wire PRESS ASSOCIATION A spokesman added: “South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) has been informed about the release of the tape of a 999 call. We take matters of confidentiality very seriously and have launched an immediate investigation.“As Thames Valley Police are preparing a file for the coroner we are also liaising with Thames Valley Police and are therefore not able to comment further at this time.” Thames Valley Police said it was a matter for the ambulance service. In the four-minute recording, released on Friday night by The Sun, Mr Fawaz is heard telling the female call handler that he found the singer “in bed, dead” and that he was “very stiff”.When asked whether the singer is “beyond help”, Mr Fawaz replies and says he is “dead”. He then says: “I’ve been trying to wake him up for the last hour but it’s not possible. He’s gone. He’s blue. He’s cold.”He is heard confirming Michael’s age – 53 – and address. The call-handler tells him to wait at the property and not speak to anyone while the authorities are called.South Central Ambulance Service confirmed it had launched an immediate investigation following the release of a tape. Mr Fawaz did not respond to a request for comment. A solicitor representing Michael’s family said: “George’s family and friends are extremely upset and truly appalled that such a personal, painful and clearly confidential recording has been leaked to the media.”On their behalf we will be ensuring that a full investigation takes place to establish how this material was made available and we will expect the culprit(s) to be dealt with appropriately.” Flowers left outside the home of George Michael in Highgate, north London, after news of his death brokeCredit:Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire “Everything had been very complicated recently, but George was looking forward to Christmas, and so was I.”Now everything is ruined. I want people to remember him the way he was – he was a beautiful person.”Police have since spoken to Mr Fawaz – along with a number of other witnesses – in order to ascertain the star’s last movements to compile a report for the coroner. She added that the family believed that anyone contacting the emergency authorities should do so in the confidence it remains private. News of Michael’s death broke late on Christmas Day, with hundreds of fans flooding to his riverside property in Goring, Oxfordshire, to pay tribute to the star.Mr Fawaz later tweeted it was a Christmas he would “never forget” and said he had found Michael “dead peacefully in bed first thing this morning”.Speaking about the devastating news on Boxing Day, he told The Telegraph: “We were supposed to be going for Christmas lunch. I went round there to wake him up and he was just gone, lying peacefully in bed. We don’t know what happened yet. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.